The best comedy writing starts with characters

Anna Chlumsky and Julia Louise-Dreyfus in "Veep."
Anna Chlumsky does her best to manage Julia Louise-Dreyfus in “Veep.”

Given the many flavors of comedy and personal taste, is it even possible to create something that is universally funny?

The Writers Guild of America’s list of the 101 funniest scripts ever written may be more definitive for some than others, but, if nothing else, the list reflects how broad comic appeal can be.

While¬†the top five films appear to have little in common, at the heart of each lie shared elements of Continue reading “The best comedy writing starts with characters”

Baroness von Sketch: Keen satire, devilishly female

Baroness von Sketch CBC
The award-winning all-female Canadian sketch comedy, Baroness von Sketch Show, examines narcissistic contemporary culture.

While Saturday Night Live, with its skewering political satire, has returned to late-night prominence, another sketch comedy, north of the border, is equally worthy of praise: Baroness von Sketch Show. Launched last year on CBC, the female-driven sketch comedy appropriately won the Canadian Screen Award for Best Variety or Sketch Comedy on¬†International Women’s Day. Continue reading “Baroness von Sketch: Keen satire, devilishly female”

Jessica Jones has what you need

Krysten Ritter (photo by Myles Aronowitz for Netflix)
Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones: A hard-drinking private investigator with a superhero problem.

If you are still looking for a reason to subscribe to Netflix, all 13 episodes of “Jessica Jones” is it.

And if you’re already a subscriber, do whatever you do to prep for some serious binge viewing because “Jessica Jones” has it all: Action, romance, intrigue! Continue reading “Jessica Jones has what you need”

Recommended book: “Dr. Format Tells All”

Script magazine’s Dr. Format (Dave Trottier) is the go-to reference for the constantly changing landscape of screenplay formatting minutiae, and his latest compilation of what the industry expects in terms of properly formatted screenplays Continue reading “Recommended book: “Dr. Format Tells All””

How to write a sitcom (step #4): Delivering the snappy dialogue

Andy Kaufman, Danny DeVito from TaxiSometimes it’s tempting to start pounding out dialogue for a scene before you’ve fully plotted the story or thought about core character traits, but such hastily written dialogue quite often is the worst thing screenwriters write — at least during the first draft anyway — because the goal of the first draft is to finish a first draft, not to have in hand a refined industry-worthy screenplay. But it’s okay, because dialogue easily can be improved simply by Continue reading “How to write a sitcom (step #4): Delivering the snappy dialogue”

How to write a sitcom (step #3): Strengthen the story

Now that you have a strong idea of who your main characters are, how they relate to each other, and where the sitcom primarily is set, you probably already have thought of a number of funny scenarios that could drive numerous episodes, and now’s the time to choose one idea and add Continue reading “How to write a sitcom (step #3): Strengthen the story”

How to write a sitcom (step #2): The setting

All television shows have a few primary locationsAll television shows, regardless of genre or “on location” shooting, have scenes in every episode set in a handful of primary locations:

How to write a sitcom and where to start

Since the sitcom I’m developing will be part of TheFilmSchool’s FREE staged screenplay reading series later this summer (August 1, at Seattle’s ACT – A Contemporary Theatre), I thought, for some reason, it would be a good exercise to document the full-on, start-to-finish process of developing a sitcom. This way I can either colossally fail or succeed — or perhaps somewhere in between — in front of the whole world. So, let’s get on with it, shall we? Continue reading “How to write a sitcom and where to start”